The dire shape of Australian ecommerce?


Liam Walsh writes: I was asked today why Australia has not adopted ecommerce like other countries.

It is a very reasonable question but I wonder whether the premise is correct?

I can’t quite spot the problem with ecommerce. I don’t have the data on the value ecommerce transactions in Australia, nor how to get it.

It would be great if someone could throw some data our way on this to see if the assertion is true.

In the absence of data I am going out with the assumption that there is no problem.

Well there is one problem and it is the dismal performance of our major retailers in ecommerce. It gets quite a lot of airplay, most often with Gerry Harvey lamenting how rubbish ecommerce is.

Well it isn’t rubbish, it is just that our major retailers are bad at the transition. It is a fascinating market to watch as more and more providers pop up, particularly in electronic devices.

Wotif, Virgin Blue, Ebay, Dell. They all sell things via ecommerce, in fact nearly exclusively.

I think we live in a country that likes ecommerce, where small ecommerce businesses and much larger focused businesses are thriving  but where our major retailers are blaming everybody else for their short-comings.

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3 responses to “The dire shape of Australian ecommerce?

  1. One of the biggest problems for online retailers in Australia is logistics.

    The US, UK, Japan, etc have a number of delivery options from couriers that deliver to every corner of the country. In Australia, your only real option for nation-wide delivery is Australia Post.

    Given the relatively small population of Australia, it isn’t viable for new couriers to enter the market and provide a national service at a better price than Australia Post.

    Australian consumers also buy online expecting the prices to be cheaper than traditional retailers such as Big W or Kmart; whereas in overseas markets, the focus is on convenience.

  2. With greater protection from credit card companies (ANZ Falcon), I’d expect more businesses to adopt e-commerce.

    I’ve read from BRW that accommodation is the largest e-commerce market… without more information, I can’t help either. I guess eBay doesn’t really count… does it?

  3. I would count eBay and Amazon as ecommerce companies in Australia. Why not?

    They can accept Australian’s orders, our money and fulfill them better than any other local technology or retail offers. As I do Apple’s iTunes Australian stores. After all we live in a globalised world.

    Ebay (anecdotally) has over 10,000 small-business customers in Australia – that is 10,000 small businesses whose retail front is based on Ebay’s platform.

    I agree with Mike that the main barrier holding back a large local ecommerce industry is the monopolistic and out of date Australian Post. Shame on the Government in this regard.

    The slow (5 days a week?) and expensive AusPost stop any decent business being able to export overseas and compete with Amazon and the like who can send a book from California to Sydney in two days. It wouldn’t even get on the plane in the same amount of time if it was going in the opposite direction.

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